This year, with our school theme focused on “Living the Legacy”, the Academy is strengthening its commitment to sustainability as guided by Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. In translation, this means “Praise Be To You” and also has a subtitle: “On Care for Our Common Home.” 

As a Handmaid school, our mission and vision have historically included a commitment to sustainability. At Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, we continue to work to foster the development of a global consciousness that will build a better world. To that end, the Academy maintains a three-pronged approach to sustainability: Reverencing the Earth, Protecting the Environment, and Leading with Education.

 Reverencing the Earth 

The Academy has placed a photo of planet Earth in each classroom. It is a NASA image of our planet suspended in the blackness of space to remind us that we are global citizens.

The planet symbol of our Earth home helps our school community to center itself on who we are and where we are. Using the image of planet Earth and studying the Earth processes as self-renewing and self-healing, we develop a reverence for the Earth and all creation.

Protecting the Environment 

In an effort to maximize energy efficiency and minimize energy demands and emissions, Ancillae has installed solar panels on all available roof space at the Academy. Since installation in 2012, energy production has enabled the Academy to purchase 10.5% of its total energy usage from renewable energy resulting in significantly less carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Our energy costs are reduced since we supply energy to the grid.

As an educational institution, the Academy strives to serve as an example of responsible use of resources and alternative energy to our students.

Leading with education

Outdoor classroom

Ancillae recently unveiled a new Outdoor Classroom, and many different classes and subject areas have taken advantage of it! Outdoor learning can increase concentration and creativity, reduce stress, and improve environmental stewardship and responsibility — all just by bringing the classroom outside. Some examples of the curriculum include the butterfly migration in grade 3, exploration of native plants in grade 4, a greenhouse building in grade 6 and investigating the impact of weathering and soil erosion in grade 8.

Outdoor Garden

Ancillae students maintain four large, raised garden beds. Our students have actively participated in choosing, designing, planting and harvesting any herbs and vegetables that come from the garden. The garden’s harvest is then immediately incorporated into the school lunch program. The whole experience allows our students to develop an appreciation and understanding of nature and of the interdependence of plants and animals through first-hand observation and interaction. Ancillae students formed a Green Team last year to focus on reducing waste, improving recycling, and promoting sustainability. Students gain hands-on experience with conservation concepts and turn learning into action.

Student dining room

All student, faculty and staff diners have now been trained to dispose of their waste into one of three containers: Compost, Landfill, and Recycling.

Our actions are making a difference! Our daily trash output has been reduced from four large (55-gallon) bags down to one bag. We have eliminated the use of two trash cans in the dining room and our recycling has been reduced from three bags to one, due to the use of the washable cups. Organic Diversion, our food and organics recycling supplier, reports that in September alone, 0.86 tons (or 1,720 pounds) of food was composted at Ancillae. . Organic Diversion comes in once a week to remove the compost, which then gets converted to fuel and animal feed, among other things.

Our mission continues as we engage and educate our community to unite behind a shared set of goals to build a sustainable future. This can only heighten our awareness that “our thoughts, our choices, and our actions” really do have an impact! From the Newsletter